Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Lab

Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Lab

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Shadows reflected on a grassy landscape
Plato's cave allegory: What is it to know, and how is true learning achieved?


My research interests are broad. I am happy to supervise students in any aspect of terrestrial ecosystem ecology provided I feel that I can be of substantial assistance, and that the process of ongoing refinement of whatever questions/hypotheses/experiments are being addressed will both develop the student, and lead to innovative science.

Prospective graduate (and Queen’s undergraduate honours thesis students) who may be interested in joining the lab should e-mail me. Mature (i.e. older) students, and students with a Northern background, are particularly encouraged to apply, even if they are unsure about whether they have the necessary pre-requisite knowledge and experience. If possible, please provide some preliminary ideas and research questions that you would like to work on, and indicate why they are innovative. In developing those ideas, you might find this list of our lab's current research themes and questions (DOCX, 28KB) useful.

I am currently seeking students to work with me on the following projects:

  1. The influences of warmer climate and enhanced nutrient availability on the ecology and biogeochemistry of birch hummock tundra. One of the questions we are specifically interested in is: How do the differences between nitrogen and phosphorus biogeochemistry influence our understanding of the functioning of low arctic tundra ecosystems, and what are the implications of these differences for predicting climate change impacts on these ecosystems?

  2. The biogeochemical significance of percolating snowmelt water into frozen porous soil in late winter on soil microbial communities and nutrient cycling.

  3. The impacts of high deer populations on the ecology of mixed deciduous forests in Ontario.

  4. The relative importance of top-down (deer herbivory) and bottom-up (water and nutrient availability) controls on primary production and plant community composition in temperate grasslands.

  5. The significance of tundra-forest differences in soil microbial and mesofaunal community composition on biogeochemical cycling under an advancing treeline.

photo of browsed birch plant
Some birch shoots near Daring Lake that may have been browsed by caribou
Photo of an ectoroot
Roots and some associated ectomycorrhizal tips from a birch plant near Daring Lake
Photo of Kate and Erik in the field
Kate Buckeridge and Erik Zufelt preparing to inject 15N tracer for one of Kate's Ph.D. thesis experiments... Erik got sufficiently good needle practice that he went on to successfully train as a medical doctor
Photo of Kate and Sonia in the Daring lab
Kate Buckeridge (doing soil extractions) and Sonia Nobrega in the lab tent at Daring Lake
Photo of a snow fence and soda lime
Sonia Nobrega setting up one of the soda lime incubations to measure cumulative CO2 release over winter in a snowfence plot (see Nobrega, Ecosystems 2007 in the Publications tab)
Photo of Dragana and others in the forest
Dragana Rakic, Linda Cameron, and Robyn Foote taking a break from fieldwork in a forest north of Kingston
Brian Ried with the trees at Daring
Brian Reid feeling proud of his stature relative to these very old tundra black spruce trees near the west end of Daring lake
Dragana with the spruce trees
Dragana Rakic admiring this very short and old 'krummholz' black spruce tree on the esker side near Daring Lake
Forest landscape
A patch of tall black spruce to the west end of Daring lake.

Queen's has many other research groups working in the Arctic and other Northern environments. Our lab group can and does collaborate with several of them. Furthermore, these faculty across Queen's work together to optimise the learning potential for our students by encouraging interdisciplinarity as well as by building ‘a sense of community’ that stimulates potential collaborations and ‘critical mass’.